How Will the Internet of Things Impact the Data Center of the Future?
As government agencies and commercial organizations gear up for budget season or embark on long-term planning exercises, one area that many grapple with is the data center. Cloud, SDN, virtualization, mobility—as technologies change and price points for once cost-prohibitive solutions decrease, it can be hard to know what the data center will look like five years from now…which can make planning and projecting expenses a challenge. We’ve seen technology changes over the past five years that have profoundly impacted the data center; the next five years will undoubtedly see similar advances, particularly in the area of Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables.
According to Gartner, the IoT will transform the data center by generating large quantities of data that will need to be processed and analyzed in real time, which will increase workloads of data centers and pose challenges with regard to security, capacity and analytics. Gartner estimates the IoT will include 26 billion units installed by 2020, an estimate that, if proven correct, will mean the data center of 2020 will need to be fundamentally different from the data center of today.
The IoT connects devices online and provides a data flow between them, as well as with centralized management. These devices can be integrated into enterprise systems to provide real-time information about location, condition and functionality, among other things. Whether it’s soldiers wearing devices that can send personalized alerts indicating when their levels of stress, fatigue and resilience may put them in danger or insulin-dependent diabetics wearing contact lenses that sense insulin levels from tear fluid, wearable technologies are already becoming a reality. In the workplace, the IoT will be part of smart offices where sensors will be embedded in doors and ID cards to improve security, employees will use smartwatches to search for images or present slides during a presentation, printers will sense when they are low on paper or toner and automatically order more supplies and lights and thermostats will be controlled automatically to maximize energy efficiency.
Only time will tell to what extent the IoT becomes a reality and the impact its adoption will have, both in the workplace and among consumers or in the field, whether that field is the battlefield for soldiers, or for civilian or commercial employees, remote workplaces. When planning to invest in a data center that remains to be determined by future needs, organizations can start to look at budgeting and IT acquisition as an ongoing process based on business requirements and outcomes rather than a rigid process based on past needs and outdated procurement methods.